To paraphrase Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech football fans are a dangerous crowd these days. Steamed by a 7-6 season and impatient with the offensive coordinator search, they barked again Friday when the ACC released conference opponents for 2013.
At the risk of further provoking the faithful, some explanations.
First, the time crunch can not be overstated. In February 2012, in response to the Syracuse-Pittsburgh expansion that grew the ACC to 14 schools, conference athletic directors bumped the league schedule from eight to nine games.
But in early October, weeks after agreeing to a football partnership with Notre Dame, the athletic directors reversed course and pared the conference schedule back to eight games. Eight months of work on a nine-game rotation torched, schedule-makers began anew.
Then there's the balance requirement. Each team's six division games must include three home and three road dates. The two crossover games are one home and one away.
Moreover, in odd-numbered years, the Atlantic Division hosts all primary crossover games, with the Coastal hosting in even-numbered years. That permits the fluid rotation of non-primary crossovers that athletic directors requested.
Combine the equity component with expansion, and conflicts were inevitable. Some 2013 games had to be played at the same site as in 2012.
The same happened in 2005 and '06, the ACC's inaugural seasons with 12 members and two divisions. Virginia Tech hosted Georgia Tech both years. Also, Wake Forest traveled to Florida State, North Carolina to Miami, and Clemson to Wake Forest in those same seasons.
The Hokies are especially affected in 2013 because of the non-conference game they played in 2012 at Pittsburgh, now a Coastal Division rival. Under the previous ACC rotation, Virginia Tech was to host Miami, North Carolina, Boston College and Maryland. Add the return game from Pitt, and you have five home conference dates.
After consulting with coaches and athletic directors, the league office's solution was to send Virginia Tech back to Miami and Boston College in 2013, while returning Duke to Blacksburg. Yes, it creates what many fans consider a bland home schedule of Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Western Carolina and Marshall. But the ACC isn't responsible for the Hokies' non-conference opponents, and dismissing the Tar Heels and Panthers as unattractive games seems rather short-sighted.
If not for NCAA sanctions, Carolina would be the defending Coastal champion, and under first-year coach Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels were among the league's most entertaining squads. Pitt rolled Tech this past season and, dating to both programs' Big East days, has won four straight in the series.
Regardless of venue, Miami will be a stern test because of the talent Al Golden is assembling. But dismal support leaves the Hurricanes with minimal home-field advantage. In short, playing at Miami in consecutive years beats playing at Carolina back-to-back.
The Hokies' return to Boston College in 2013 is necessary because, as previously mentioned, the Atlantic hosts all primary crossovers in odd-numbered seasons. That's also why Georgia Tech plays again at Clemson in '13, and Duke returns to Wake Forest.
Previously, Virginia Tech also was scheduled to face Florida State on the road next season. But with rotation crossover games cut from two to one by expansion, the Hokies were going to lose a 2013 date with either the Seminoles or Maryland.
The Terps may not jazz fans, but that game is far more winnable than playing in Tallahassee, where Tech will have appeared only once in its first 10 years of ACC membership. Indeed, the Maryland-instead-of-Florida State bargain could be the difference between the Hokies winning the Coastal and not.
Two other points: First, the Seminoles are already playing Miami at home next season, and under the new format, you can't play two teams from the opposite division at home, or away, in the same year.
Second, in the old rotation, Miami played at Virginia Tech and Florida State every other year. That's brutal, and the new format splits those games to where the Hurricanes travel to Blacksburg or Tallahassee every season.
Contrary to the Hokies, Virginia's 2013 schedule adjustment was blissfully simple. As they would have pre-expansion, the Cavaliers get Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke and Clemson at home, with Miami, North Carolina and Maryland on the road.
The lone change: Virginia plays at Pitt instead of Wake Forest.
If you think this schedule-making is easy, by the way, consider the Southeastern Conference, which this season grew to 14 teams. While Alabama played four of its six West Division games at home, newcomer Texas A&M played four of its six on the road.
Gazing ahead, the ACC format appears equitable and easy to follow. The hiccups are few and, rather than lingering for multiple years, occur only in 2013.
Let's just hope there's no realignment to louse it up.